Social work student praises community policing

Walking the streets of downtown Hamilton proved educational for a student in the UWindsor master’s of social work for working professionals program.

Jeff Baxter was assigned to study a city neighbourhood and said he was interested in testing his preconceptions of Hamilton.

“As a resident of Guelph—the city with the lowest rating on the crime severity index scale in the country—I always had the perception that Hamilton was a violent city, and so tried to explore this issue further,” he said.

What he found surprised him.

“Sure there are social problems: poverty, crime, addiction,” Baxter wrote in a piece published in the August 13 Hamilton Spectator. “But there were also many unexpected positives. The downtown is filled with character and history.”

He said that the Addressing Crime Trends In Our Neighbourhood (ACTION) policing program represents a step in the right direction. He saw patrol officers demonstrating its benefits.

“They were approachable, they were kind, they seemed quite open and transparent, and when I viewed them interacting with the residents of the downtown core it seemed pleasant and nonconfrontational,” Baxter said. “The next step is to provide the community they are policing a voice, and finally, to listen to it.”

He published his article in an attempt to draw comment from the area’s citizens.

“When my assignment was (completed), I was left wondering how the actual residents of the downtown core who interact with these officers feel about the new strategy,” he said.

Read the entire article, “ACTION program officers show a different kind of policing downtown.”